“No one is more respected than dudes in prison, right?”
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, now America's longest-running live-action sitcom is currently airing its fifteenth season and was recently picked up for another three seasons after that. Starring Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson, and Danny DeVito, this show has been a hit with fans for almost two decades now.
Given that the show's characters are all truly terrible people and with over 150 episodes in the tank, it's no surprise that Charlie, Dennis, Mac, Dee, and Frank have had more than their fair share of run-ins with the law. Even the series' running jokes emphasize It's Always Sunny's commitment to telling stories about bad people doing bad things. From underage drinking schemes to unsolicited gasoline sales, there aren't many laws the gang hasn't tried to bend.
Season Four, Episode Two, 'The Gang Solves The Gas Crisis'
With high gasoline prices and a large amount of money hidden beneath Dee's mattress, Charlie, Mac, and Dennis decide to solve the gasoline crisis. They buy copious amounts of gasoline and attempt to undercut the gas station prices before giving up and attempting to sell the gasoline door to door.
With Charlie taking his role as the wildcard a smidge too seriously – terrible accent and all – and a van filled to the brim with barrels of gasoline, it's no surprise this scheme ends in an explosion. However, it is surprising that this scheme doesn't land them in jail. Although when you're as slippery as the gang, it's no wonder they never saw any repercussions.
Season Four, Episode Eight, 'Paddy's Pub: The Worst Bar In Philadelphia'
It's safe to assume that the proprietors of Paddy's Pub are inundated with terrible reviews, but Lyle Korman's particularly scathing review rubbed the gang the wrong way. After a failed meeting with Korman to try and change his mind, Charlie gets drunk and takes him hostage.
A situation that is only exacerbated when, while attempting to cover Charlie's tracks, Dennis and Dee also kidnap Korman's neighbor. This situation should have resulted in handcuffs, and it would have done, had Korman not thought a more suitable punishment was instead to leave the gang to carry on living their pathetic lives in their miserable bar.
Season Three, Episode Five, 'The Aluminum Monster vs. Fatty Magoo'
Damaged egos are often the cause of the gang's zaniest plots, and the opening of Frank's newest sweatshop is no different. Dennis takes huge offense when Dee suggests that he peaked in high school and sets out to prove himself. Seeing that an unpopular girl from high school is now the owner of a boutique, Dennis sets off to sell her one of his designs.
Though she swiftly rejects his proposal, Dennis lies and tells Frank that she placed an order, which of course, leads ex-businessman Frank to open a sweatshop beneath the bar. As was the case with Frank's earlier sweatshops, the sly serial criminal somehow manages to wriggle free of any repercussions.
Season Five, Episode Twelve, 'The Gang Reignites The Rivalry'
Never before has a game of flip cup mattered so much. When a ban the gang received for trying to poison their opponents runs its course, Paddy's Pub is finally allowed to re-enter Philadelphia's flip cup tournament, Flipadelphia. Enraged that their old rival no longer cares about Flipadelphia, Dennis and Frank deface his house before turning their attention to a fraternity to recruit new players.
After being rejected by the ruthless fraternity, the gang returns to their old, foolproof technique and again poisons their opponents. The only possible explanation for this not landing the gang in jail is that the fraternity members were simply too embarrassed to report it.
Season Six, Episode 13, 'A Very Sunny Christmas'
For most people, meeting Santa is a joyous occasion enjoyed by children and adults alike. For Charlie Kelly, however, the situation is wholly different. It might go without saying that, with a mum that rates high on a list of wildest recurring It's Always Sunny characters, Charlie Kelly has a different understanding of seasonal festivity than most of the rest of the world. Fresh from discovering that the men in Santa hats weren't simply delivering presents each Christmas, Charlie heads to the mall to meet a man dressed as Father Christmas.
Unable to shake the Christmas-ruining news, Charlie snaps and assaults Santa, biting into him as if he were a mince pie at Christmas dinner. As to why Charlie didn't face any consequences for this, it's safe to assume that the mall security guards were simply feeling too festive to make an arrest.
Season Seven, Episode Six, 'The Storm Of The Century'
News of an imminent storm, the likes of which Philadelphia has never before experienced, rattles the gang. Things only get worse when they discover that Charlie has eaten most of the food in the bunker. In need of supplies, the gang head to a superstore where they commit a host of crimes.
Firstly, Dennis' clumsy flirting terrifies local news reporter Jackie Denardo. Following this, Frank shoots Cricket back at the bunker, and while driving him to the hospital, he somehow manages to crash his car into the superstore, prompting a massive riot. While this certainly isn't the worst of the gangs' crimes, it is tough to understand how they didn't encounter any consequences for their actions considering the local news caught them rioting.
Season One, Episode Three, 'Underage Drinking: A National Concern'
Not the gang's most elegant scheme, but it was effective nonetheless. The staff of Paddy's Pub find themselves with a moral dilemma when the bar is suddenly busier than ever but populated entirely with underage drinkers. As usual, it doesn't take them long to decide on the option that most benefits them, in this case allowing the teens to drink in the bar without ever getting drunk.
Naturally, the gang somehow manages to embed themselves within the intricate dynamics of high school life, with Charlie even attending high school prom. This scheme, however, is one of the rare occasions that the gang themselves are the only people to be hurt by their plot. No harm, no foul, perhaps?
Season Eleven, Episodes Nine and Ten, 'The Gang Goes To Hell'
It's hardly surprising that Mac's decision to bring Charlie, Frank, Dee, and Dennis along with him on a Christian Cruise Ship results in disaster. Between Charlie and Frank smuggling copious amounts of beer onto the alcohol-free cruise, Dee punching a stage magician in the face, and Dennis terrifying a poor young woman, the gang soon find themselves locked away in the brig.
When the boat capsizes and the brig floods, the gang nearly pays the ultimate price for their sins. Fortunately for them, they are saved from death at the very last minute and don't face any punishment for their behavior, given they all nearly drowned on the ship. A lucky escape, all things considered.
Season Five, Episode One, 'The Gang Exploits The Mortgage Crisis'
Looking to exploit the ongoing mortgage crisis, Frank buys a house for next to nothing, which he plans to renovate and then sell on for a considerable profit. Unable to evict the current tenants, Mac and Dennis take matters into their own hands by posing as Vic Vinegar and Hugh Honey, 'partners in real estate and partners in life.' Taking a good-cop, bad-cop approach to real estate, they soon coerce a married couple into agreeing to buy the house.
While Honey and Vinegar's methods are unethical, the only actual crime committed is when Frank sends the tenant's children into the basement to rip out some of the copper linings. Always able to avoid legal trouble, Frank agrees to gift the house back to the tenants to prevent them from pressing charges. Sadly, all of this means that Honey and Vinegar's hard-earned sale never came to pass. A tragedy.
Season Eleven, Episode Eight, 'Charlie Catches A Leprechaun'
Though every season brings something special, there's no denying that season Eleven saw It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia premiere some of its most innovative episodes. With profits declining on what is usually the bar's most profitable day, the gang decides to shake things up for St Patrick's Day. Dennis, Dee, and Frank decide to take the business mobile while Mac and Charlie stay at the bar to serve drinks and honor Charlie's tradition of trying to catch the leprechaun. When people complain about the new business, Dennis begins stealing his customer's wallets and abandoning them on the outskirts of town.
Meanwhile, Charlie comes across a pick-pocket stuck in his leprechaun trap; well, the less said about that, the better. Managing to steal, torture, and kidnap all in the space of twenty-four hours is quite a feat even for the gang, and the fact that they somehow made a profit while doing so is perhaps most impressive of all. When it comes to new ideas for the business, it seems Dennis does know what he's doing.
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“It didn’t make much money in its day, but it does seem to be well-liked over time.”
Michael Walsh is a graduate of the Northern Film school and spends his spare time watching and writing films and TV. Mike lives in Rochdale, England
“No one is more respected than dudes in prison, right?”